Saturday, May 26, 2007

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

This third book in JK Rowling's Harry Potter series deepens the relationship between the audience and the world that the author has created, filling in significant details about Harry's past while offering whole new ways for Harry and his friends to misbehave, get themselves in danger, and ultimately fend off death itself. The concept of a dementor and the link between Harry and his father as a Hogwarts student are particularly strong inventions. Dementors are part of the popular culture now -- I once had someone say something like, "I thought a dementor had taken over" in the waiting room of a hospital. She meant it as a joke, but it's a sign of how deeply embedded these inventions have become that she would attempt that kind of joke with a stranger. This may be the best book of the series -- not over-long, but with a complex plot and a satisfying ending. The mysteries are somehow less dark, in part because Harry is less alone than in the second book, and the Quidditch Cup is a more important part of Harry's adventures. Seemingly insignificant details get tied in to the main story at the end in a surprising twist or two, and the book really does represent Harry's coming-of-age in a unique way (and I don't use the word "unique" lightly.) I like the movie almost as much as the book this time, in spite of all the changes. It captures the coming-of-age story and takes viewers on a fun ride. The book is still more satisfying for a chance to celebrate Harry's triumphs in private.
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